Haute Savoie

In France for a well-earned break, checking out some interesting areas near the Alps and exploring the area. Packing the Remedy for the trip might have been over kill for the 60km randonnee around the Rhone Valley on mostly riverside trails. That was a ride that could have been executed in a fraction of the time on something that didn’t have 6” travel and 2.3” knobblies.

Yet for that one day of riding with my great friend Jamie Carr on his local trails the bike was more than suitable. In fact any hardtail would have soon have been way out of it’s depth. There was only one near death over the bars and off the mountain experience as the front wheel washed out on an off camber singletrack section encroached by lush mountain grasses and spiky shrubs.

From the second of the two cols on the route, the brake burning run down to the valley bottom was interspersed with beautiful sections of flowing woodland singletrack with natural berms and drops as well as groomed switchback turns. This is what mountain biking is all about and I can’t get enough of it.

Mountain Biking Last Summer

So with another week to go, the Tour de France in full swing and my French improving I’m wondering what it’ll take to make my backyard trails look more like this one day soon.

Soft Touch

Back in May this year Apple opened a new store on Boylston Street in Boston. It’s the company’s largest in the US, and second-largest in the world. It would of course have been rude not to go and take a look (there’s a page detailing the opening and lots of pictures here). It is a good looking store. So I went along and checked out some of the things on offer.

Now I’m quite interested in getting my hands on one of these new touch screen iPods. Then you think – maybe I should get an iPhone. The reason I ditched my personal mobile a few years ago was that I never used it, so it would have been pointless getting another one. I’ve been talking to iPhone users too, especially those who also have Blackberries too and the consensus is that there is no way that you’ll be able to text or email quicker on an iPhone. So if you do that a lot it’s not  good alternative.

So really all you need is an iPod touch. Basically an iPhone without the phone – all the same applications, although no camera, not that this is an omission that would make any difference. The iPod is lighter and thinner too. Thing is since Apple brought out the new iPhone the playing field has been thrown out of kilter. According to MacRumours you’d have to be off your rocker to buy an iPod touch right now because a replacement is imminent.

In fact the real reason you’d be nuts to buy one is because the iPod Touch 8Gb is $300 and the iPhone 8Gb is $200. So for $100 less you get an iPod Touch. And a mobile phone. And a camera. In one device. I felt like saying something, but clearly Apple know best, right? Despite the exchange rate savings, there’s no point buying one until some better kit come out. I think I’ll be waiting until they bring out a 64Gb version…

I wandered off and headed down to the great little Back Bay Bicycles store for some retail therapy instead. They have a neat little calculator on their website where you can see how much riding could save you in comparison to driving too.


So I’m at a technology conference in Boston right now. It’ one of those places where you get bombarded with content – lots of people sharing what they are using to do certain things. One of the more interesting things I’ve discovered is Frappr. It’s the product of three UC Berkeley students and it’s rather neat. Here’s a map I’ve created:

The biggest issue with it in terms of integration is that it comes with some very complex imbed code. So the plan with the map above was to be able to add it to one of the Singletrackworld forums. Any way I’ve put a post up here to try and see if this gets any uptake.

Clustrmaps was also discussed in one session. Here’s a map for rothar.com (see below) it’s really something that needs to be added to the sidebar or footer and it’s an aggregation tool so it will collate content over time. What would be really need was if it was possible to integrate it into Google Analytics to use visitor data to create a retrospective summary at install stage.

Locations of visitors to this page

function cantload() {
img = document.getElementById(“clustrMapsImg”);
img.onerror = null;
img.src = “http://www2.clustrmaps.com/images/clustrmaps-back-soon.jpg”;
document.getElementById(“clustrMapsLink”).href = “http://www2.clustrmaps.com”;
img = document.getElementById(“clustrMapsImg”);
img.onerror = cantload;

Bay Area Baby

In northern California on business and it’s my first trip to the Golden State. Warmth, sunlight, people with suntans – pretty much everything that the British summer has failed to produce. From a base on Alameda Island, meetings have taken me to downtown San Francisco, the wealthy and art rich campus of Stanford and up to the home of the Golden Bears, UC Berkeley. Fantastic insight into some of the world’s leading universities and life in and off campus. Tomorrow I’ll be in Boston… Still at least’s there’s still Tour de France coverage, although no escape from Liggett and Sherwen.


Boarding in Zermatt was great. Two days where it dumped snow and three bluebird days where the sun shone, plus one day when it was so windy that a third of the lifts were closed. It was great holiday time with really good friends and some plans have been hatched for later in the year. I’m sitting in a cafe at Geneva Airport train station, where  the baggage has been checked into the left luggage store. We’re off into the city shortly to explore and look in some Estate Agent’s windows. Last night the G’star discovered that she has an interview with the UN later this week. It’s fantastic news and means if things all go to plan that Switzerland might be our new home. Fingers and toes are crossed.

Switzerland News

I’m in Zermatt right now taking in some stunning winter snowboarding and catching up with some old friends. There’s plenty of biking stories being discussed including past endeavours and future options – hopefully even some stuff that’s never been attempted or recorded before. We’re just trying to work out some dates to make it all happen.

Alpine Singletrack below Kleiner Scheidegg

Singletrack Issue 41 is due out in the shops in the next few days, it features my write up of the inaugural Eiger Sanction trip – a multi day adventure through the heart of Switzerland. Check it out! There are a few photos from the trip in the photos section, I’ll publish some more when I get back to the UK.

Panic Two

So after riding yesterday I went for a walk around St Peter Port and popped down to my former employer Ian Brown’s Cycle Shop. Unfortunately I missed Ian, but caught up with Paul Brehaut to get the low down on the local scene and a guided tour of the shop. It was great to see how much it has changed and it is without doubt one of best shops I’ve been to in terms of location and setup.

That night I caught up with my old buddy Dave Hubert who was letting me crash at his pad and what was supposed to be a few quiet ones turned out to be a full on session with double Glenmorangie chasers. The weather was picking up as a big Atlantic front approached and we were soaked through by the time we walked home from the pub. Up early the next morning to get the ferry to Herm for the race. So early that most places were still closed, so with a slightly heavy head, I managed to find the newsagent on the Bridge open and bought a few packets of crisps. This was mistake one. Should have bought more food.

Still off to Herm, nice smooth crossing, chance to catch up with a few friends from back in the day, but lots of new faces that I didn’t recognise at all. Good 45 minutes to preride the course, which worked out at about 20 minutes a lap. It took in all the classic elements, except the harbour hill climb, which was replaced by some new downhill sections developed for the Island Games and then a grassy climb back up to the Manor crossroads. The race went okay. I wasn’t ever going to stand much chance against the guys at the front of the field, because they’re used to doing these short course events and you adapt to the short sharp climbs.

I know it took me a year or so to get properly used to riding in the UK for hours at a time after being used to races that just lasted an hour or so. After four laps of the five lap race my steady pace meant that I was clawing a few places back slowly, but then on the final climb, I hit the wall and just ran out of energy. Too much Breda in the pub last night, the energy bars that had mysteriously disappeared from the Camelbak and the fact I’m almost out of energy drink led me to conclude that if I pushed on for the final lap, then I was going to completely bury myself. Just as I was contemplating this suicidal endeavour, race leader Rob Smart (who I used to play rugby with) came past and lapped me, which kind of helped me decide that I could gracefully concede defeat and bow out.

So I had a little time to take a few photos and then we all headed off to the Mermaid Tavern for a hearty lunch. Now I swear that on the boat on the way over in the morning the announcement had been that we were getting the ferry back from the Rosaire Steps at 3.30pm. So after lunch I went off to have a bit of an explore (checking out some of the megalithic monuments and tombs) and had a bit of a snooze in the shelter and in the sun. Get back to the Mermaid at about five past three to find my bike’s the only one left lined up outside the pub. Think that’s odd, they must have just all set off. Ride past the harbour and onto Rosaire. Can’t see any big group of riders or the boat, but then it’s a little hidden from sight until you completely get there.

Arrive to find no big group of mountain bikers. Not a soul. And no boat. Now Herm isn’t very big. There are only two ways on and off it by boat and I’ve been passed both of them. Reality starts to kick in. Either they’re all playing a fantastic practical joke or… That’s the only Ferry off the island today and there’s a great big storm coming in later today with force 8 or 9 winds and the chances are that there will be no way off the Island at all tomorrow and maybe only with luck on Tuesday. Just as I am contemplating having to spend the next few days on Herm a flash of yellow catches my eye.

It’s a bloke in yellow oil skins at the bottom of the steps. I lean the bike up against the wall and wander down the steps and shout:

“Alright there?”

He looks around

“Have you seen where all the cyclists went?”

“Yeah, they went on the boat about 10 minutes ago”

You’re joking! I really am screwed now. Then just as I was giving up, a little fishing boat comes into view. It’s sporting GU markings, so there’s an outside chance… I shout:

“You’re not going back to St Peter Port are you?”

He responds with a nod. So I promptly follow up with a cheeky,

“Any chance of a lift?”

His cheery positive response is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Fortunately he’s picking up some people who’ve been ormering and have taken advantage of the spring tide to reach some normally inaccessible spots. It’s pure chance that I’m in the right place at the right time and I’m able to grab a lift back to Guernsey. The little boat takes a bit of a pounding on the crossing back, but the fact there are big shipping vessels taking shelter in the lee of the Island is indicative, that it’s going to get a lot worse tonight. Back on dry land the reality of my close escape becomes apparent. That was a serious bit of luck, but I’m going to need more of it if I’m going to be able to get my flight in the morning back to Manchester…

Panic One

Spent all last night after my ride, except for about an hour, getting ready for the weekend away. Really bad night’s sleep, eventually being woken up this morning at 4.30 and then laid in bed waiting for the alarm at 6.30. Next thing I know I wake up at 7am. Holy crap must have dozed off and when setting the alarm last night I’d turned it off by accident. Move into emergency panic mode, dressed, packed and on the bike within 5 minutes. Cane it to work on the road bike jumping all the lights. Get changed and the haul bike bag deposited in the office last night to Piccadilly Station. Get 7.30 train to Airport. It’s an express, so it only takes 20 minutes. Find trolley. Throw on bike bag and push it through to T1 like Lewis Hamilton on a charge through the field. Get to check-in, eventually. Absolutely no one waiting. Bit worried now. Speak to the girl behind, the desk:

“Hi I’m here for the Guernsey flight, but I’m afraid that I’m a bit late?”
“Yeah, sorry”
“Oh no, you’re here in plenty of time!”

Panic over! It was just a quick hour flight to Guernsey from Manchester. Sketchy landing, but quickly through the airport and picked up the hire car, which turns out to be abrand new Ford Focus Zetec. Fired it up and then headed off towards Pleinmont. Had a quick walk around up near the motocross track and then drove down to Portelet and parked up. Re-assembled the bike and then rode out taking in all the old routes via L’Eree, Vazon, the Guet, various green lanes through the interior valleys, down to Moulin Huet up and out and along the coast back to Pleinmont before getting back to the car about 2 hours later. Great to be out exploring the old routes once again and I found probably the only break in the weather all day so managed notto get soaked through and even saw blue skies once or twice.

Rotten Apple

Not supposed to have happened this. I’m sitting here looking at several thousand pounds worth of PowerMac, which is calmly looking back at me and showing me a Blue Screen of Death (henceforth BSOD). Yep. I’ve tried to upgrade to Leopard and it hasn’t like it, not one little bit. The annoying thing is that I didn’t just dive on in. I wasn’t doing the upgrade the day it came out and I’ve already successfully update my MacBook Pro at work. Still it doesn’t help much, I’m still left with a rather disappointing situation. So here are the fixes I’ve tried so far. I’ll post remote updates until I get a working fix (thanks to Blackberry):

1. A derivative of the BSOD fix documented on SwitchingtoMac. The changes are to the initial commands (lacking a /sbin/ and a surplus /) and changing the two ‘exit’ commands for one for ‘reboot’. Based on the details in this Apple support document.

a. Reboot into single-user mode (hold Cmd-S while booting machine)

b. Type the following two commands:

/sbin/fsck -fy

/sbin/mount -uw /

c. Remove the following files:

rm -rf /Library/PreferencePanes/ApplicationEnhancer.prefpane

rm -rf /Library/Frameworks/ApplicationEnhancer.framework

rm -rf /System/Library/SystemConfiguration/ApplicationEnhancer.bundle

rm -f /Library/Preferences/com.unsanity.ape.plist

d. Restart the system by typing:


This didn’t solve the issue, but when booting the system loaded to the traditional grey screen with the Apple logo and the swirling clock timer rather than going straight to the BSOD. After looking like it was going to load it went to the BSOD anyway.

2. Phoned Apple. They took me through:

a. Reboot from CD rather than hard disk. Restart the Mac whilst holding down the C key.

b. Attempt to reinstall Leopard by following the on screen instructions.

This didn’t fix it either.

3. Next step is going to be to phone Apple again and see if they have anything else to suggest before option 4.

4. It may be necessary to perform an Archive and Install installation. At this point I am going to need to go pack to Tiger and then go forward again to Leopard. Archive and Install moves your existing Mac OS X system files to a folder named Previous System, and then installs a new copy of Mac OS X on the selected volume.


So yesterday over lunch I did some searches on the issue and looked for people with PowerMac Dual G5s who’d had similar issues upgrading. In the end I found this thread on the Apple Discussion boards, so last night took my MacBook Pro home and tried it out. I firewired in to my PowerMac drives and removed the following two files:



After rebooting the Mac still loaded to the BSOD, so I checked for the files listed in the second section of Serendipity’s post (those listed above in point one), but found that either they’d never been there or I’d successfully deleted them already. Reading further down the thread I came across the post from PenguinSix which reads:

Just wanted to chime in that in another thread some of us are discovering the DIVX preference files are causing a similar problem to the APE files. A simple renaming of the DIVX preference rescued my machine and several others.

Here is the thread: good luck to everyone:


This was an interesting one as I knew I definitely had DivX software installed. From the content of the thread it didn’t look like it was going to fix the issue for me, but I renamed the following folder anyway:

/Library/Application Support/DivXNetworks


/Library/Application Support/DivXNetworks-old

Rebooted and it fired up to the Leopard log-in screen straight away. Phew! Logged in and everything is just fine. Big relief! Not to bothered about all the hassle now it’s working again, but I think my attitude towards Apple products has been irreversibly changed. The ‘it just works’ motto will always now carry the additional small print ‘except if you install any software we don’t make’.